A San Diego County sheriff's deputy is under internal and criminal investigation following accusations by three women that he improperly groped them.
A lawsuit was filed in court and two claims were filed against the county.
The complaints document two women who say the deputy inappropriately touched them in their homes. One woman said she was pulled over for a traffic stop and touched inappropriately while being patted down and transported to jail.
Richard Fischer, 31, was placed on administrative leave in October when the first accusation surfaced.
Fischer has not responded to the newspaper's requests for comment.
San Diego County Sheriff's Department officials say the agency will take appropriate action when the investigations conclude.
Attorney Dan Gilleon, who is representing the three women, says his clients spoke out after they "found courage in each other's willingness to come forward."
The lawsuit was filed by a woman who was stopped in the early morning of Nov. 24, 2015 for not having a working license plate light. The suit alleges the vehicle's license plate light was working at the time.
The woman, who was arrested on misdemeanor drug charges, said Fischer searched her three times - once during the stop, once at the Lakeside substation and a third time before putting her in his patrol car to transfer her to Las Colinas.
While buckling her into the patrol car, the deputy told her, "It's a shame that we didn't meet under different circumstances," the civil complaint states.
Outside the entrance to the women's jail, the woman alleges that Fischer unbuckled her seatbelt and touched her breasts.
She wrote a letter in March 2016 detailing the incident to the SDSO Internal Affairs, the lawsuit states.
On Monday, a claim was filed with San Diego County by another woman who said she was fondled by Deputy Fischer during a welfare check.
She said the deputy entered her home at 9:30 p.m. on November 26, 2016, took off his coat and told her she was "hot" and that she needed a hug.
The complaint described an embrace "that included fondling of her buttocks with his hands and inappropriate massaging of her breasts with his own chest.”
When the deputy allegedly asked for a kiss, the woman said she refused and insisted he leave.
The complaint claims the deputy told the woman “that he would be in the neighborhood watching out for her.”
A third claim filed with the county describes a welfare check that took place on August 20, 2017. Two deputies were called by a father concerned about his adult daughter who has been diagnosed as bipolar.
The welfare check ended with the two deputies leaving, satisfied that the woman was not experiencing any need of their help.
However, the woman said Deputy Fischer returned an hour later at approximately 3 a.m. and identified himself to her as "Rick."
She said he asked to use her bathroom and stayed in her home for up to 10 minutes, complimenting the woman and hugging her.
The complaint alleges the uniformed deputy began to hit on the woman by saying "I think you're cute" and then gave her "a 10 second hug, without her consent, during which his chest rubbed and embraced her breasts which were not supported by a bra."
The complaint adds that Fischer fondled the woman's torso, shoulders, arms, back and buttocks.
The woman spoke with an SDSO lieutenant on Oct. 24, 2017 and detailed the incident, according to her attorney.
Here is the full statement issued by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Ryan Keim on Nov. 3 following the initial allegation:
"The Department has received a complaint and claim for damages exceeding $6,000,000, from a female adult alleging inappropriate hugging by Deputy Fischer. The employee was immediately moved to an administrative assignment upon notification of the complaint. The Sheriff's Department does not comment on pending criminal or internal investigations. However, the department holds all of our employees to the highest standards and is in the process of conducting a prompt and thorough investigation into the allegations."